A new Google Doodle today honors the 374th birthday of the Danish anatomist Nicolas Steno, the man widely regarded as the father of modern geology.
The new inanimate Doodle features the Google logo with letters sketched out of three to five layers of earth, depending on the height of the letter and links to search results on Steno.
It is a fitting tribute for the man whose life’s work on rock layers and fossils largely led to the study of geology as we know it today. Intrigued by a shark’s tooth fossil embedded in rock, he set out to learn how one solid object could be found inside another solid object, such as a rock.
He determined that fossils formed when particles in water drifted down and formed layers over objects. Steno hypothesized that the layers of rock are arranged in a time sequence, with the oldest layers on the bottom and the newest on top. His theory became known as Steno’s law of superposition.
Born Neils Stensen in Copenhagen, he was also known as Nicholas Stenonis or Nicholas Steno. He left him home in 1660 to study medicine in Italy, where he became involved with a body of researchers following Galileo’s mathematical approach to science.
Following his geological discoveries, Steno left science, became a devout Catholic, and ministered in Germany, Denmark and Norway. Pope John Paul II beatified Steno in 1988, bringing him one step closer to sainthood.
Google has honored many notable mathematicians and scientists with their patented Doodles, including:
- Mathematician Pierre de Fermat
- English astronomer Edmond Halley (of Halley’s Comet)
- Inventor Thomas Edison
- German chemist Robert Bunsen, inventor of the Bunsen burner
- Nobel Prize-winning physicist/chemist Marie Curie
What do you think of the Steno Google Doodle? Let us know in the comments!